As Jesus gathered with his disciples in the upper room for the celebration of the Passover meal His mind was focused on the events to come. He sat in silence. The disciples’ minds were speculating on the promised Kingdom that the Messiah would usher in. They had seen, even participated in, the miracles. They were convinced beyond a doubt that they were indeed in the inner circle of God’s Holy King. Their conversation echoed their hearts.
Judas Iscariot leaned over to Bartholomew. “So, who do you think will be the second-in-command once the Kingdon is set up?”
Bartholomew shrugged. “I don’t know. Jesus hasn’t tipped His hand as to who it might be. Could be any one of us.”
Peter chimed in. “Well, we know it won’t be either James or John. Jesus shot that idea down when their Mommy requested that they be put in that position. Since I was the only other one who went with Jesus on the mountain and saw what we did, I guess that puts me in the most likely position to take on that role. We’re not even allowed to tell anybody what we saw that day.”
Judas Iscariot leaned back. “I’m the one Jesus put in charge of the money for this group. If He trusts me with that responsibility then He’s probably going to put me in that spot.”
The other Judas looked over his shoulder. “Jesus taught us that the last will be first. So maybe I’ll be in the top spot.”
Everybody laughed. When Jesus stood silence filled the room. All eyes watched as He walked over to the basin near the entrance. He took off His outer garment and wrapped the towel around His waist. He took the pitcher and filled the basin with water. He carried the basin to the reclining Judas Iscariot and carefully washed both feet, drying them with the towel.
Jesus brought the basin over to Bartholomew and repeated the process. As Peter saw Jesus approach him next he recoiled his feet away from Jesus. “Rabbi, are You going to wash my feet? That’s backward, You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus smiled as He kneeled by the basin. “You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will later.”
Peter remained in the fetal position. “But, You’re the Rabbi. I should be the one washing Your feet. This just isn’t right.”
Jesus looked into Peter’s eyes. “If I don’t wash you, then you have no part of Me.”
Water splashed on the floor as Peter stretched his feet to Jesus and reached his hands as near to Jesus as he could get them. “Then wash my hands and head as well. I want nothing more than to be a part of You!”
Jesus chuckled. “You cleaned up before we came in here. Only your feet need washing now.”
Gentle splashing was the only sound in the room while Jesus washed every foot. After placing the basin in its original spot He took the towel off and put His garment back on.
Jesus looked into each set of eyes as He resumed His pre-meal position. “I have given you an example to follow. As I have washed your feet you shall wash each other’s feet. Do this and people will consider you great. No one is greater than the one who sends them, but everyone loves a servant’s heart.”
Talk about a story twist. None of the disciples saw this coming as they gathered for another Passover meal, the holiest of all the Jewish rituals. This meal commemorated the sacred event that preceded the Exodus from the nation’s captivity in Egypt many generations before. God’s deliverance was to be carefully remembered by every Jew on an annual basis.
As the Rabbi of this group Jesus would lead the proceedings. This was only the first twist He would surprise His followers with. Everything in the meal was meant as a fore-shadowing of the death Jesus would soon experience. The disciples had yet to realize this.
Being such a special event the men would do their best to wash up beforehand, hence Jesus’s remark to Peter about being clean enough that only his feet would need to be washed.
So, what was so special about the feet that Jesus felt the need to perform a separate washing for them? Let’s look at John 13:10 to see the answer. “A person who’s had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you is.”
Jesus has a knack for saying something in the physical while meaning it in the spiritual sense. A person who’s had a bath has a clean body; a person who’s been spiritually bathed has a clean heart. The reborn have been cleansed of their sins, that won’t be taken away from them. Jesus’s last comment about not all of them being clean referred to Judas Iscariot being given over to Satan as the one who would be used to betray the Messiah into the hands of the executioners (the necessary evil that had to be done to carry out the divine appointment).
Jesus and His followers had open sandals and dirt roads to travel. So by getting to the site of the meal from where they had cleaned up the dust from the streets would have gotten on their feet. To remain clean they would have to wash the new dust off of their feet in order to maintain their purity.
Do you see it now? The feet are the part of the body that makes contact with the world. Being in the world we’re bound to get some of it on us. A special washing is necessary to maintain our purity. Core accountability groups are important to keep us from getting sucked into the world while we’re trying to reach the world with the gospel.
Do you have such a council established in your routine? If not, why not?
I’ll see you later. Wade